WeAreTheCity, has partnered with Visa, a world leader in digital payments, to announce the launch of the 2024 Visa Everywhere Pioneer 20 following the inaugural edition in 2023. This pioneering initiative aims to recognise and celebrate the remarkable contributions of refugee women across Europe who are entrepreneurs, leading small or micro businesses and social enterprises, giving them an opportunity to tell their stories and showcase their businesses. To further support their growth, the selected pioneers will have access to business coaching and mentors. Visa will also donate £50,000 to refugee support organisations in support of this initiative more generally.

As the world faces unprecedented challenges, it is crucial to highlight the stories of resilience, strength, and determination that refugee women bring to their communities and local economies. The Visa Everywhere Pioneer 20 recognition programme will spotlight entrepreneurs who are not only overcoming personal hardships but are also actively reshaping narratives, empowering both women and girls, and leaving a lasting positive impact on society.

The Visa Everywhere Pioneer 20 seeks to honour women from diverse backgrounds, industries, and experiences. These trailblazing individuals, whether they run small local businesses, innovative startups or large organisations serve as beacons of inspiration, breaking down barriers and fostering positive change. We are seeking stories from business owners who are actively dispelling stigmas, challenging stereotypes, campaigning for change, and making an impact on both the lives of others and the economic landscape.

Nominations and self-nominations for the Visa Everywhere Pioneer 20 open on the 5 March 2024 and will remain so until 17 May 2024. Organisations, charities, businesses and not for profits are encouraged to put forward the names of refugee women entrepreneurs who have demonstrated exceptional courage, resilience, and a commitment to making a positive impact in their respective fields.


  • Open to all women aged 18 and above.
  • The individual must identify currently as a refugee * or at some point identified as a refugee.
  • Any charity, NGO or Foundation operating in Europe can nominate an individual.
  • Any public sector or private sector entity that have an active program supporting refugees can nominate an individual.
  • The individual must reside in Europe. **
  • The individual must be an entrepreneur, business owner or social enterprise owner. ***

* Refugee definition – A person who has been granted official refugee status as a result of a Refugee Status Determination (RSD). For more information on RSDs, please see the website of the UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency, here

Alternatively a citizen of Ukraine who does not have a refugee status, is legally staying in Poland on the basis of the provisions of the Act of March 12, 2022

 ** Europe definition – European Union member states and Switzerland, Norway, Turkey, Iceland, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and the UK.

*** Entrepreneur, business owner or social enterprise owner definition – A person who owns at least 51% of a business that: (i) has been registered as a business entity for at least one (1) year; (ii) has a product or service in market and generating revenue; and (iii) has a physical or digital presence such as a store, website or similar.

  • We are excited to launch the 2024 edition of the Visa Everywhere Pioneer 20 to celebrate and empower remarkable refugee women who are transforming narratives and emerging as influential change-makers. This year, we are calling out for all the amazing refugee women entrepreneurs with an aim to amplify their exceptional accomplishments and journeys to establishing their own businesses, while supporting their next steps and inspiring the refugee community.

    Mette Grolleman
    SVP Government Engagement Europe, Visa
  • I am delighted to have the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the incredible achievements of refugee women for the second year.  We received an incredible response to our listing in 2023 and our celebrations of these women were hugely impactful in terms of sharing their respective campaigns, charities, and initiatives.  I am very much looking forward to reading this year’s nominations and chairing our panel of esteemed judges.

    Vanessa Vallely OBE
    Founder of WeAreTheCity


  • Nominations Open: 5 March 2024
  • Nominations Close: 17 May 2024
  • Announcement of Selected Pioneers: 20 June 2024
  • Celebration Event on World Refugee Day: 20 June 2024

Meet the Judges

Enver Solomon

Chief Executive, Refugee Council

Taban Shoresh OBE

Founder & CEO, The Lotus Flower

Alan Barbieri

Head of Programmes & Partnerships, The Human Safety Net

Celebrating the Visa Everywhere Pioneer 20 in 2023

WeAreTheCity and Visa celebrate the 2024 Visa Everywhere Pioneer 20

In a world often marked by adversity and displacement, stories of strength, perseverance, and hope emerge, reminding us of the indomitable spirit of humanity. This week, Visa and WeAreTheCity held their Visa Everywhere Pioneer 20 celebration ceremony on World Refugee Day to celebrate twenty incredible refugee women in business. Refugee women frequently endure unimaginable hardships when they are compelled to flee their homelands due to conflict, persecution, or other life-threatening situations. Upon arrival in unfamiliar territories, they must navigate language barriers, cultural differences, and numerous socio-economic challenges. Establishing a business in their new environment adds to these difficulties, including securing access to finance and lacking support networks. Despite these obstacles, many resilient women across Europe have been tirelessly rebuilding their lives and establishing sustainable businesses. They have overcome significant barriers and are also employing other refugees, contributing to their financial empowerment. The event at Visa’s headquarters in London brought together...

WeAreTheCity and Visa celebrate the Visa Everywhere Pioneer 20

In a world often marked by adversity and displacement, stories of strength, perseverance, and hope emerge, reminding us of the indomitable spirit of humanity. This week, Visa and WeAreTheCity held a celebration ceremony, in London and Warsaw, for twenty incredible refugee women who were acknowledged in the inaugural Visa Everywhere Pioneer 20 2023 list. The evening celebrated the remarkable achievements of these women who have overcome enormous challenges to make significant contributions to their new communities and the world at large. The event brought together individuals, organisations, and supporters from charities and NGOs to recognise and applaud the achievements of these unsung heroes. Hosted in a spirit of unity and empowerment, the ceremony highlighted the vital role that refugee women play in shaping our collective future. You can read all about the Pioneer 20 here. Refugee women often face unimaginable hardships when forced to flee their homelands due to conflict,...

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